The Drowning Sea
reviewed by Pam Guynn
Sarah Stewart Taylor balances a police procedural with sleuthing by a former homicide detective and with family drama in The Drowning Sea, the third book in her Maggie D’arcy series. Maggie is currently unemployed and on vacation in the village of Rosscliffe on a remote West Cork peninsula in Ireland. Her daughter Lilly as well as her boyfriend Conor and his son Adrien are with her.
When a tourist finds the body of construction worker Lukas Adamik, everyone seems to think he committed suicide by jumping from the cliffs into the sea. However, as Maggie learns more about the village and its people, she thinks it could be murder. When Lilly starts dating one of Lukas’ friends, Maggie is determined to get answers and protect her daughter.
The author does a great job of characterization. The characters, brimming with personality and depth, make it easy to bond with many of them and be wary of others. The protagonist is determined to solve the various mysteries and learn more about the history of the village, but she is far from perfect. Deciding whether to move from Long Island to Ireland is only the beginning. If she and Lilly move, what will Maggie do? There’s no going back to her old job in New York. How will Lilly adjust? While points of view shift throughout the novel, Maggie’s is the central one. The transitions worked well for me.
This is a well-plotted story with some unpredictable moments and a few twists and turns. For a small and relatively remote village that is gaining tourist interest, there was a lot of action, deception, half-truths, secrets, mysteries, and outright lies. Nevertheless, which ones are important? I kept turning the pages wondering what I would surmise next. The world-building is excellent, transporting me to the coast of Ireland. I could easily visualize the village and the Ross Head peninsula and feel the wind blowing in from the sea. While this worked as a stand-alone novel for me, I believe it would have been beneficial to read the earlier books in the series first. The novel isn’t fast paced, but it held my interest throughout.
Overall, this book was engaging, atmospheric, and suspenseful. It gave readers an opportunity to try to solve the multiple mysteries along with Maggie and the police. How successful will you be? This novel should delight those readers that enjoy international mysteries that have strong female characters and an absorbing plot. I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.
St. Martin’s Press – Minotaur Books and Sarah Stewart Taylor provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. This is my honest review. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way. Publication date is currently set for June 21, 2022.